One Christmas evening, a group of friends set off to enjoy a dinner of celebration at a small country inn nestled in a quiet river town. As they rounded a bend in the road, they saw the small, old-fashioned village decorated for the holidays. The lights, like fairies, glowed and sparkled amid the freshly fallen snow. All evening, the conversation was full of Christmas memories and the visions the tiny town had evoked, and the idea for a lighted Christmas village was born. That spark of an idea became a reality when, in 1976, Department 56 introduced a series of six hand-painted, ceramic buildings. Since then, Department 56 has become a leader in the giftware, collectables and holiday decorating market, priding ourselves on the high-quality pieces we offer to all. We are best known for our hand-painted, illuminated villages that bring holiday cheer to whomever sees them.